Calibrated Scales

Looking at my cheap bathroom scale. Step on. Step off. The needle slips back and forth, left and right of the benchmark mark. The baseline moves from 2 pounds to 299 pounds to 0. The needle lists away. I adjust it back to "0", again. How much do I really weigh?

Enemies and Allies. Depending on the day, I can believe what I want to believe about my shape. My clothes are like my confidants on the matter. They are my allies or enemies, fat or skinny. Fat clothes without waistlines drape and cover me like 'yes' men and let me believe whatever I want to believe about my condition. They blur the truth. Fat clothes are my soft peace-loving and codependent allies. Skinny clothes on the other hand, are like boney adolescent enemies. They tsk and whisper to my fears without any grace, "That zipper won't go up. It's time to embrace this plump pear shape. Forever." My clothes have an opinion. Like most women, all that I choose to believe about my shape on any given day is dependent on a lot of moody variables, and which clothes are talking louder.

[Enter the Scale]

Mine isn't working. It works just enough to give me a general idea. And honestly, that works for me because I go on how I feel in my body rather than how much my body exactly weighs. It's not the pounds, it's the feeling that matters most. That said, I do have a bottom and top target weight range. If I stay inbounds, it's all good. My scale works well enough for that. And lately it's apparent, I'm way out of range. 'Time to start back up with reasonable exercise, and some attention to the quality of what goes in my mouth. That's all. So be it. I know what to do. It's just a matter of choosing it.

This recent weight repentance has me thinking about the necessity of scales in another way.

It matters what scales we choose. If I choose to use a scale that doesn't really tell me the truth, there is still wiggle room for me to believe what I want. "Oh, the scale isn't working. That can't be right." I'll listen to my codependent fat clothes, instead. They still fit and feel good. "I'm fine." It's possible to have a scale that doesn't work, and still believe the numbers because it says what you want to hear. A scale like that won't transform my life for the better.

So, what about the things that matter way more than calories and pounds? I'm talking about weightier matters that involve the contents of my character -- things like trust, love, patience, devotion, fidelity, honesty, integrity.

What's my scale for these?

This sounds so dogmatic and preachy. I don't know how to say it otherwise. But lately, I've been thinking about my personal gauge, my moral compass. It's the contents of my Jesus faith. The numbers on my scale are Spirit and Truth. I engage with them in the sacred words of the Bible or in prayer. There's a deep and gently correcting quality in both -- if I choose to use them -- if I choose to "step on the scale". And, I go in seasons.

Out of Shape. Sometimes 'holidays' creep into the discipline of my spiritual days. And so begins an incremental accumulation of excess weight to my stride. I get slow and lazy. Procrastination creeps in. Discipline shrinks back. God's Spirit gets quieter. People's opinions get louder. Other things slide into the space in my day where meditation and study used to belong. I get spiritually flabby and out of shape. When I don't make the choice to weigh-in with something other than my feelings, I can indefinitely tell myself, "I'm fine."

Reality is, my inner shape impacts in the way I love God or people. Or rather, the way I don't.

Re-calibrated. Recently, I stepped back on my spiritual scale and re-engaged. My biblical compass tells me God's love is unconditional, regardless of what undisciplined shape I'm in. And that's gracious reason to exhale and engage. But dang, it sure feels bad to face the scale and start over. It's been like turning on the light in a dark room that hasn't been cleaned for weeks. Practically speaking, I'm compelled me to confess all sorts of crappy things to my husband and friends that seemed 'fine' only days ago: That one thing I said, that hurtful choice I made, the way I disappointed or angered someone due to selfishness or greed. It's like a reorientation -- re-calibrating to "0".

The weigh-in feels bad, initially. Pride hates a weigh-in. But, there's something cleansing and free about admission and repentance. It takes down my heavy self-absorption and resets me in a lighter learning posture. I call it 'hitting spiritual cntl/alt/delete'. And the hardest part is the simplest first step toward the scale.

So, in case you've got a little time to think, I'll leave a handful of questions:

  • Are there codependent 'yes men' (i.e. fat clothes) in your life that you turn to, instead of seeking truth about yourself? (If so, jot them down).
  • Are their judgmental enemies (i.e. skinny clothes) that cause you shame and self-condemnation? Who/what are they?
  • Where do you turn for trustworthy inner re-calibration?

Similar articles:

Grace's Weight

False Horizon

Necessary Space


Caitlin Barber said...

"Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart."
1 Timothy 4: 7-9 [MSG]

This post reminded me of that passage in 1 Timothy 4 that talks about spiritual flabbiness. It always cracked me up, but there is a lot of truth to it. Thanks for sharing, Kelley :)

Kleigh (clAy) said...

Spiritual Flabbiness! That's it!
Right on the mark, Caitlin.
Great quote.

Kira Roberts said...

I love this... encourages me to be truthful to myself and not hide behind worldy things even though it's easier. Focus on what matters: Living in and for Christ!! and be determined to stay spiritually 'fit'. Thanks Kelley :D